It's been a very long week here with a true mix of joy, family, laughter, migraine and exhaustion.
Our dear Cully May turned four on Tuesday and her level of excitement went into overdrive for days with barely a handful of hours sleep (for mummy and daddy as well) as her endorphins ran high until by Thursday night she fell into a proper sleep at last. Blossom, Ross and Rafaella (who shares a room with her big sister) were rather thankful for that.
In our home there was much to do, as is normally the flow of life here, but a crippling two-day migraine had me moving very slowly and doing things quietly and carefully. I am so thankful for all the meal prep I did last weekend because it made such a difference, for regardless of migraines or other maladies we still need to be nourished in order to maintain overall health and energy.
Having those slower days mid-week was also a blessing in disguise as it gifted me many hours to ponder God's Word and how I could apply it more to this life, hear His directions for change and growth, plan any course corrections which appear to be needed, and fill my heart with an increase of gratitude for all we have and all He has gifted us.
One word that resonated all week was CONTENTMENT so each day I'd consider my own understanding of contentment and in what ways I already experience it. I also turned things around to grasp what brings about discontent in my life and how to stem that tide - for I do not want anything that breeds discontent in my thoughts or manner or character, but yearn for a fully contented heart which is completely at peace with where I am, who I am, and what I have before me.
I found it easier to begin with what makes me content, especially during days of relative quietness and serenity (yes, even during a migraine).
Hanging up the washing; caring for the chickens; preparing meals; fresh sheets on the bed; the return of my husband from work at the end of the day; alone time pre-dawn to read my bible as much of the world around me sleeps; hours spent with Blossom and her girls; watering the vegetable garden just before the sun sets; swimming in the pool with long slow strokes and then floating under the blue sky and talking to God about my day (even in winter); preparing ingredients for next week's meals; packing my husband a healthy work lunch before making breakfast; picking fresh veggies for dinner; listening to the next chapter of an audio book as I wipe down benches and cupboards (currently Cranford); sweeping the tiled floors and shaking the little kitchen mat outside; resting for lunch and sipping a hot cup of tea in a real teacup; reorganising drawers and dusting shelves; tending the indoor plants; burning essential oils at the end of the day; old hymns playing in the background as I go about the other household chores...so many things bring me contentment, but what really stood out was how they were all based in our home.
When you know what brings contentment to your soul you have a perfectly wonderful opportunity to seek more of those experiences and rhythms - especially if your life seems to overwhelm with anxieties or confusion. Choosing to walk more in those contented areas and less in your areas of discontent there is opportunity for great change to occur in your everyday character, especially with regards to interaction with other people and how you respond to various challenges that crop up.
But just as I pondered the things which brought contentment to my life there was next a need to uncover the areas of discontent. Firstly, let me say that not all those areas can be removed, but some surely can, and for the others it's important to pray and ask God to bring clarity and direction for how to manage them in future. The balance I think we all need is to be more heavily leaning into the contented areas of life in order to manage the not-so-contented moments or commitments.
The sweet delights of what we enjoy can do much to alleviate some of the strain caused by less contented things. You know, when I was younger and Nana was serving one of her own childhood favourites for dinner and it was a meal I did not like (tripe poached in milk springs to mind, crumbed brains was another!) I'd stoically eat it, my mind focused on what was coming next - dessert. And I loved every one of Nana's desserts. In fact I loved 90% of what Nana cooked and that's why I could 'cope' with the 10% that almost made me gag.
Life is a gentle balance of what we like and what we don't; what brings contentment and what doesn't; joys and heartaches; trials and triumphs; sickness and health; love and loss; dreads and desires...none of us are immune to this. There are good days and bad days, and we can either be swamped by a soul which is focused on our discontents or we can write a list of everything that adds life and nourishment and contentment to our souls and find ways to add more of those into our everyday life.
As a Christian I choose to lean on the Lord for direction, understanding and wisdom because left to my own devices there'd be far more time spent wallowing about what I don't have than pulling up my britches and expressing gratitude for what I DO have.
Now, I'm not telling you I've got this contentment thing all sorted out yet because I don't, but this past week with it's few days of 'migraine-enforced-quiet' brought to the surface an important understanding of what makes me tick. And the biggest surprise was that not once did 'stitching' come to mind when I was listing the things that caused my heart to whisper 'this is contentment'. And isn't that interesting?
So what about you?
Would you like to spend the next week pondering your own list of contentments and discontents? Just imagine, it may be a game changer for you.
Next week I have a new little Quiet Life project to share...just need to add a few touches, but it's rather sweet and quick to make too.
Bless you ever so much. Truly, this Jenny-girl appreciates you visiting, reading, chatting in response and generally being a part of my ramblings and ponderings...
To God be all the glory for anything good in my life for without Him I wonder just where I'd be...
PS: New patterns are now in my Etsy Shop over HERE